Excision of Melanoma

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Question:
I’ve heard differing advice and hope you will clear up something for me. What CPT code do we use for excision of a melanoma? I’ve heard people say to use the excision of skin lesion code, 116xx, and others tell me to use the soft tissue or radical excision of tumor codes such as 21556 or 21557?

Answer:
Good question. CPT says that a melanoma is a cutaneous lesion and, therefore, an excision/resection should be reported using the excision of malignant skin lesion codes such as the 116xx codes. It is not accurate to report an excision of soft tissue tumor code (e.g., 21555, 21556) or radical resection of soft tissue tumor (e.g., 21557) code for excision of a melanoma.